Hearing Protection In The Movie Theatre
1.1 Hearing Protection In The Movie Theater: Is It Necessary?
The loudest film I’ve ever seen in theaters was an ultra-high-definition IMAX screening of Dunkirk, in 2017, in Columbia, South Carolina. I remember this exact experience because I vividly remember not bringing earplugs. This was a massive mistake and one I believe that I am still paying for to this day. If you are unfamiliar with the film, it begins in an almost surreal environment: paper (tossed from off-screen by Christopher Nolan) is falling from the sky. A young man, Tommy, and his squad are wandering the streets of the town of Dunkirk. At this point in the film, gunshots erupted.
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I knew that I had two choices. I could immediately leave the theater, or find some form of hearing protection. This was serious. When the enemy forces dropped a bomb on the Allies, my ears began to physically ache. Something was wrong with my ears. Being in the hearing protection business, I knew that I had made a mistake.
Eventually, the bombing runs ceased. As I ducked alongside the soldiers, I pulled out a dosimeter app on my iPhone. I understand that there are varying degrees of accuracy with the dosimeter apps. However, studies show that the apps’ measurements differ from calibrated dosimeters’ by less than +1. I found that the output of the theater’s sound system was incredibly worrying. As I looked around me at the nearly full theater, my heart sunk.
The volume raised to nearly 100 decibels during a later bombing run. Hearing damage occurs after 15 minutes of exposure to 100 decibels. Dunkirk is an hour and forty-six minutes long. Over half of the movie involves explosives or machine guns.
I was extremely fortunate in that my brother had brought an extra pair of generic earbuds with him. I crammed these into my ears for the duration of the movie. When the movie alluded to gunfire or a bomb drop, I cupped my ears and slouched in my seat to escape the assault. After the film was over, I knew that I had done something terrible to my ears. For the remainder of the evening, I felt exhausted. I felt like I was hearing through a tunnel.
I had been dosed with damaging decibels. My job is to protect people from getting dosed. And that’s why I’m telling this story: not too dissuade you from going to the movies or enjoying your favorite visual artists. I am recommending that, if and when you attend a showing, you prepare as you would a concert or live event. Bring a pair of earplugs or a handful to pass out. There are damaging decibels everywhere and they will, if not accounted for, cause irreparable hearing damage.
I watched Dunkirk over a year ago. However, I have recently had an incredible experience in a theatre with hearing protection. When you put in a pair of Hearing Protection In The Movie Theatre, the noise around you is muffled which can for many people cause immediate discomfort and take you out of the story that is being portrayed on screen.
1.2 The Solution: What Hearing Protection to Wear in the Theater
There is a solution to this problem. Recently we attended a showing of Venom in Ultra HD Imax, and it was loud! Nearly as loud as Dunkirk with the explosions car crashes and over the top spectacle of alien vs. alien fights. However, this time, I was prepared. I wore a pair of our filtered earplugs called the One I chose a 9-decibel purple filter option and sat through the film. I could hear every line, every movement every person laughing and better, yet I did not feel taken out of my environment.
After the film concluded, I exited the theatre, and I had no issues, no ringing, no pressure in my head, and it did not feel like I was listening to the world through a tunnel. I will from this point on wear my Big Ear hearing protection to every film I attend, and I believe that those who frequent films and live performances should be required by a governing body to wear hearing protection including harsh penalties on those who subject children to damaging decibels without protection.
My recommendation for those reading this is simple, during your next film experience, during the previews (Please do not turn your phone on during the movie) Download a dosimeter and get a reading on the levels in the theatre and send a screenshot of it to us with what movie you saw in the message. If you do this, we will give you a discounted rate on a pair of our filtered hearing protection. It is our mission to eradicate noise-induced hearing loss; however, we cannot do it alone. It takes brave women and men working together to rid the world of this completely avoidable disease. We need to wear Hearing Protection In The Movie Theatre when it’s too loud.